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July 21, 2016

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Up to12,000 members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States and its Auxiliary are rolling into the Tar Heel State this weekend to elect new leadership and to approve resolutions that will guide the national organization’s advocacy efforts on Capitol Hill, and its veteran and military support programs across the country. The 117th VFW National Convention begins Saturday at the Charlotte Convention Center in Charlotte, N.C. The event is closed to the public.

“We are very fortunate to have both presidential candidates speaking to us next week,” said VFW National Commander John A. Biedrzycki Jr. “It continues a longstanding VFW tradition to provide an opportunity for those seeking the nation’s highest office to address the nation’s largest and oldest major war veterans’ organization, which is especially important during a time of war and instability abroad, as well as internal challenges at home,” he said.

“What we hope to hear from both candidates is how they will fight our enemies while keeping America safe through strong national defense and homeland security programs,” he said. “We also want to know how they will create, enhance and protect veteran and military health care programs and quality of life initiatives, such as educational benefits, job training and employment programs, as well as hear a renewed commitment to return our fallen from their battlefields.”

The 12,000 VFW and Auxiliary delegates will represent the organization’s total membership of nearly 1.7 million at the weeklong convention. Their mission will be to approve new national priorities to guide the VFW as it lobbies Congress on issues important to the nation’s veterans, service members and their families. Convention delegates will also elect a new VFW national commander, Brian J. Duffy of Louisville, Ky., as well as recognize prominent individuals and organizations for their support of veterans and military personnel.

National awards to be presented at the VFW’s 117th National Convention include:

— VFW Armed Forces Award to U.S. Army Special Forces Command (Airborne);
— VFW Americanism Award to artist Scott LoBaido;
— VFW Hall of Fame Award to comedian, actor and retired Marine Corps Lt. Col. Rob Riggle;
— VFW National Teacher Awards to Jessica Mosley, Park Intermediate School, Weiser, Idaho; Donna Kregelka, Chippewa Middle School, Okemos, Mich.; and William Ellery, Carmel High School, Carmel, Ind.;
— VFW Voice of Democracy $30,000 scholarship winner Grayson Campbell;
— And introduce the 2016 VFW Buddy Poppy Child, 12-year-old Jaeden Davis from the VFW National Home for Children.

Invited guest speakers include Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Bob McDonald, Undersecretary for Health Dr. David Shulkin, Acting Undersecretary for Benefits Thomas Murphy, Selective Service System Director Lawrence Romo, Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts and Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-9th/NC), among many others.

The VFW National Convention is not open to the public; however, a video link to the general session will stream live at www.vfw.org beginning at 8 a.m. Eastern, July 25-27. Only registered and credentialed media from bona fide news organizations will be approved to cover convention activities. To pre-register, contact VFW Communications Manager Randi Law at VFW National Headquarters at rlaw@vfw.org, or at (o) 816-968-1104. Onsite registration begins at 8 a.m., Saturday, July 23, at the VFW Communications Office inside Hall B of the Charlotte Convention Center, (o) 704-339-6212.

Contact: VFW Public Affairs Director Joe Davis, 202-608-8357, JDavis@vfw.org



KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States again extends its heartfelt condolences and sympathy to the law enforcement community and the families of the victims of the recent attack that left three Baton Rouge police officers dead and three other officers wounded. Among the dead was Matthew Gerald, a Marine and former U.S. Army and Black Hawk crew chief with three tours in Iraq.

“America’s law enforcement officials—many of them veterans—ensure we’re able to safely exercise the freedoms that have been paid for by the many sacrifices of America’s service members. While those in law enforcement face risks, the increasingly dangerous confrontations of today are becoming too much. Our local, state and national governments must do all they can to better protect those who maintain order,” said VFW National Commander John A. Biedrzycki Jr.



WASHINGTON — The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. and Student Veterans of America are now accepting applications from student veterans interested in participating in the 2017 VFW-SVA Legislative Fellowship program. Now in its third year, the fellowship offers 10 selected student veterans the unique opportunity to meet face-to-face with their members of Congress during the annual VFW National Legislative Conference, as well as provides additional opportunities for fellows to address veterans’ issues in their communities.

Student veterans interested in applying for the 2017 VFW-SVA Legislative Fellowship must complete an application package that includes a proposal that addresses one of these four specific legislative issues:

  • The success of veterans in the civilian job sector;
  • The future of VA health care;
  • The success of veterans in higher education; or
  • The successful transition from military to civilian life.

The essay should discuss why the issue is important to the veterans’ community, and how the fellowship candidate plans to address the issue through community-based advocacy. Selected fellows will then be flown to Washington, D.C., to storm Capitol Hill alongside fellow veterans’ advocates as part of the 2017 VFW Legislative Conference, Feb. 26 to March 3.

“The VFW has been advocating in Washington on behalf of veterans, service members and their families for more than a century, and we want to share our experience with a new generation of veteran leaders through our SVA partnership and our annual Legislative Fellowship program,” said VFW National Commander John A. Biedrzycki Jr. “Last year’s fellows showed me that a new generation of leaders is ready to step up and take action. I can’t wait to see what the 2017 fellowship class brings to the Halls of Congress.”

“Student Veterans of America is proud to partner with the VFW to provide 10 students the opportunity to bring the issues facing veterans from their campus to the Halls of Congress,” said Jared Lyon, SVA president and CEO. “In this the third year of the program, we’re proud to add a more robust academic component to the curriculum, so that our student veterans are receiving academic recognition for their efforts. We thank the VFW for their continued support of SVA and our nation’s veterans, and are excited to work together to help transform yesterday’s warriors into today’s scholars, and tomorrow’s leaders.”

VFW-SVA Legislative Fellowship opportunities are open to currently-enrolled student veterans at colleges and universities with active SVA chapters. Candidates must be VFW members, the criteria for which can be found here.

All applications must be submitted by close-of-business Oct. 21, 2016. Selected fellows will be notified before Thanksgiving, with a formal announcement of the fellowship class at the SVA National Conference in Anaheim, Calif., in January 2017. For full details about the fellowship and to apply, visit www.vfw.org/StudentFellowship.

Many past fellows earned academic credit for their experience, as well as found internships, accepted additional academic opportunities, and even landed jobs as a result of their fellowship experience.

The VFW-SVA Legislative Fellowship is another example of the strong collaboration between VFW and SVA that resulted from a memorandum of understanding signed by the two organizations at the SVA National Conference in January 2013.

About Student Veterans of America: SVA is a 501(c) (3) nonprofit coalition of 1,200-plus student veteran organizations representing 440,000 veterans in higher education. SVA’s mission is to provide military veterans with the resources, support and advocacy to ease veteran and active military students’ transition into higher education and leverage military experience to launch successful careers in high-demand fields. For more information, visit us at www.studentveterans.org and follow us on Twitter @studentvets.

 VFW National Legislative Service

The location of our Washington, D.C. office allows us to monitor all legislation affecting veterans, alert VFW membership to key legislation under consideration and to actively lobby Congress and the administration on veterans’ issues.

Everything we do on Capitol Hill is with the VFW’s priority goals and veterans’ well-being in mind. With the strength of the nearly 1.9 million members of the VFW and its Auxiliaries, our voice on “the Hill” cannot be ignored!

The VFW’s National Legislative Service advocates on veterans’ behalves. By testifying at congressional committee hearings and interacting with congressional members, the VFW has played an instrumental role in nearly every piece of veterans’ legislation passed since the beginning of the 20th Century. The VFW’s most successful and important legislative push was to make college education affordable for military service members with the signing of the 1944 GI Bill of Rights, the Montgomery GI Bill in 1984, and the new Post-9/11 GI Bill in 2008


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Permanent link to this article: http://myvfw.org/fl/post8255/


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